PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University Professor Eugene A. Rosa, in conjunction with co-authors Carlo Jaeger, Ortwin Renn and Thomas Webler, has been awarded the 2000-2002 outstanding publication award of the Section on Environment and Technology of the American Sociological Association. Their book, “Risk, Uncertainty, and Rational Action” (London: Earthscan Press, 2001), raises fundamental questions about the way risk is analyzed.
A landmark approach in the history of risk analysis, the authors ask pivotal questions regarding the system of rationality used to estimate and manage risks. The book concludes with the observation that the pervasive system in use, a brand of Western rationality, is not appropriate to every type of risk.
“Our key point is,” Rosa says, “there are multiple rationalities and the one most suitable is dependent on context.” The authors contend the usual frame is faulty if applied to every context. “There are other kinds of rationality that need to be taken into account.” Those, says Rosa, are rarely, if ever, considered.
The book was written for a professional audience of social scientists and policymakers and will likely be used as a textbook for graduate studies in wide variety of disciplines including, engineering, management, government and social sciences. It is worthy to note, the authors believe this research could change the way risk is evaluated.
Eugene A. Rosa is the Edward R. Meyer Professor of Natural Resource and Environmental Policy, associated with the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service. He also is a professor of Sociology and an affiliated professor of both Environmental Science and Fine Arts.